Truffles sold by Oakland, California-based Truffle Shuffle.  Photo courtesy of Tyler Vorce

Tyler Vorce, a California chef and Maine native, will be in southern Maine Thursday to pass out Spanish summer truffles to chef friends in Portland, Freeport and Wells. Those chefs will use the truffles in dishes they’ll serve over the weekend at their restaurants.

Called the “Truffle Takeover,” the event is organized by Truffle Shuffle, the Oakland, California-based business that Vorce and his business partner, Jason McKinney, launched last September. Both are alums of The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s famous restaurant in Yountville, California, where Vorce spent five years as a sous chef and McKinney was chef de partie.

“We worked for years as chefs in restaurants, and realized that the truffle business is an opaque market, meaning it’s very difficult for chefs to know where their truffles are coming from,” Vorce said. “There’s a lot of misinformation. What we focus on is just being completely transparent with chefs.”

Truffle Shuffle is a mostly wholesale business that sells whole truffles from Europe and Australia, as well as products such as truffle peelings, truffle oil, truffle fragments, truffle powder, truffle salt, truffle honey and frozen truffles. The black summer truffles (their insides are pale) that the Maine chefs will be working with, harvested in Tárrega, Spain, typically cost $250 per pound wholesale, Vorce said. (Home cooks who want just want a little truffle to shave over their scrambled eggs can order from the company as well, at

The main event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to close (usually 8 p.m.) Saturday at the Maine Beer Co., 525 U.S. Route 1 in Freeport, where a truffle pizza is already on the menu in the tasting room. (Maine Beer Co. is one of Truffle Shuffle’s best customers, Vorce said.) Vorce, McKinney and Parker Auger, who runs the kitchen there, will develop a couple of truffle dishes, including one with lobster.

Other restaurants participating in the Truffle Takeover are Chaval, Duckfat, Gross Confection Bar, The Highroller Lobster Co., Izakaya Minato, Piccolo and Tipo, all in Portland, and the Bitter End in Wells. The chefs at these restaurants are old friends of Vorce’s.


Vorce, 30, was born and raised in Kennebunk and attended Kennebunk High School. He worked at Pier 77 and The Ramp Bar & Grill in Cape Porpoise for six years, starting as as dishwasher. He went on to other jobs, eventually landing at The French Laundry.

Something fishy is going on in Lubec next week

Maine’s last sardine cannery closed over a decade ago. Now, Sardine Camp, scheduled for July 31 in Lubec, is reviving the state’s deep links to the fish, for a day. The unusual camp is being organized by the Greenhorns, a grassroots group that sponsors such events to support sustainable agriculture and fisheries.

Grilled Maine Sardine Crostini with Harissa Photo by Gordon Chibroski

The day will start with a fishing trip aboard a windjammer on Cobscook Bay and a lesson about Maine’s historic sardine industry. Next, participants will visit the McCurdy Smokehouse Museum in Pembroke and eat a smoked fish lunch. The afternoon includes presentations by Paul Molyneaux, Boats and Gear editor at National Fisherman magazine; Brett Ciocorelli of the Downeast Salmon Federation; and Portland restaurateur Mike Wiley, co-owner of Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co., and The Honey Paw. The day ends with fish smoking, fermenting and pickling demonstrations. The camp costs $80-$110.

The Greenhorns have two other food-related camps in the works, both also Down East: Blueberry Camp, in August, includes berry picking, jam making and winemaking ($30). September brings Cider Camp, co-sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Activities will include apple pressing and talks by Gene Cartwright of Whaleback Cider, and Abbey Verrier and Angus Deighan, who press cider on their family homestead ($40-60).

The Maine Heritage Orchard will hold its own Maine Apple Camp Aug. 16-18 at Camp NEOFA in Montville. Activities include orchard tours, cider tastings, and lectures on topics such as foraging wild apples, identifying and preserving varieties, unusual apples on social media, and the apple genome. For more information, or to register, go to


A Maine chef – yes, again! – competes on Chopped

Yet another Maine chef has competed on the TV cooking show “Chopped.” Dave Mallari, owner of The Sinful Kitchen, a brunch restaurant at 906 Brighton Ave. in Portland, will appear on the show at 9 p.m. Aug. 20 – but he’s not allowed to talk about how well he did until the show airs. Mallari also owns The Pig Kahuna, a catering company.

Chefs on “Chopped” are given mystery baskets of ingredients and a limited amount of time to create an original dish from them for a panel of judges. Each episode features an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert. After each round, a chef gets “chopped” from the competition, until the last chef standing wins $10,000. The episode on which Mallari appears, called “Hot Dog Hot Shots,” according to the Food Network website, features “a strange hot dog creation” in the first mystery basket. The second basket contains “a can of something that’s not usually used in gourmet cuisine,” and the dessert round includes a cake and a Japanese drink.

Six Maine chefs have won the $10,000 grand prize on the show. Two of them, Matt Ginn of Evo Kitchen + Bar and Christian Hayes of Dandelion Catering and The Garrison, shared their experiences at a Maine Voices Live event in Portland this year. You can watch the video on

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